Madrona Manor’s landmark mansion has impressed visitors since 1881
John Alexander Paxton was an extremely prosperous man engaged in many successful
endeavors, including mining, banking and lumber, and was active in promoting Sonoma County’s wine industry. He served as a State legislator from the Yuba County area.
In 1879, John Paxton bought 240 acres for $10,500 as a site for his home. In March of 1880,
a contract was awarded to Ludwig and Guerne to erect a home for $12,000 west of Healdsburg just
across the Dry Creek bridge. The place was known as Madrona Knoll Rancho,
and it was a grand show place in the 1880’s and 90’s. Healdsburg workmen were employed almost
exclusively on the building. The first story was up in June and, in July, 3,000 feet of
manufactured gas pipeline was laid from the city to the Mansion. By the end of the year the grand
estate was complete. Every Monday morning John would either ride horseback or be driven to the
depot to entrain for the metropolis of San Francisco, and every Friday evening on his return
he would be met at the train station by his groom, Mr. Zimmerman.
The Paxton family consisted of John and Hannah, their two sons, Blitz and Charles (both grown and not living at home) and a sister of Mrs. Paxton's, Miss Ruth McClellan, who, for a time taught at the local school. There was a coachman, a footman, a groom, several maids and at least one
Paxton purchased the forty acre Sterling Ranch in 1881, and five years later began a winery at a cost of $10,000.00. Joe Deluchi laid the stone work, making the walls four feet thick at the base and two feet at the top. The winery was 50' x 70' and 2 ½ stories high. Its capacity was 75,000 gallons and designed to utilize the grapes from Paxton's upland vineyards. The following year Mr. Paxton left New York for business in Liverpool and died aboard the steamer just short of his 69th birthday. Funeral services were held in Healdsburg on June 19, and his body was interred in a stone vault on the eastern slope of Madrona Manor under a favorite evergreen tree.
Hannah built a church at Matheson and East Street
as a memorial in 1888. She died in 1902, at which
time Mr. Paxton's body was exhumed and both were taken to San Francisco where their remains areburied. Blitz took over the family home as well asthe presidency of the Bank of Santa Rosa followinghis father's death. Madrona Knoll Rancho was retained by Blitz and was used as a weekend retreat until he sold it circa 1913.
The property remained a private residence until 1981 when it was purchased and renovated into its new incarnation as a world-class country inn and restaurant.
In April of 1987 the Madrona Manor was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District.
Bill and Trudi Konrad purchased Madrona Manor in April of 1999. They have undertaken further renovations to enhance the elegance of the inn.